chapter  12
24 Pages

The Magic of Verbal Art: Juanita’s Santería Initiation

It was Friday, July 7, 1995, and Juanita Figueroa and I were sitting at the kitchen table in

the back room of her botánica,2 which was where we always met to discuss Santería. It was almost 6 p.m., the time Juanita closed the store. Through the years I had come to

know this table as Juanita’s workbench, for on any given day, at any time, she would be

using it for grating coconuts, chopping fruits, sorting large bags of herbs into smaller

retail bags, threading a variety of colored beads to make necklaces, painting religious

statues, or sewing clothes. Juanita had taught me about the magical significance of these

items, and I was now ready to learn how to conduct divination and exorcism rituals.